Monday, July 28, 2008

Manifest Destiny

So when I was a kid in elementary school, we did a unit on American Indians. I think it was 4th grade because that's the class where we had an unlimited supply of clay to make an Indian village. JJ Cisneros and I worked a long time on "Boob Mountain". That was also the schoolyear that Mike Barlow got caught with a Penthouse magazine in his desk and I'd play "Mercy" with Laura Carroll every recess. But that's not the point of this memory.

As 4th graders we learned about Indians in general- what they grew, their culture, their housing and where they lived, their belief systems and oh yeah, the fact that we as a nation took their land. Great eh? Well fast forward to today and we now know that they have lots of casinos and are still treated pretty poorly in America. George Carlin had a routine where he spoke of how it all went down "Hey can you guys scoot over a little? Hey can you guys scoot over a little more? Hey can we have a little more room? Until we shoved them off to Alcatraz.

So my first grade daughter checked out a book from the library about our 50 United States- published by Time for Kids. Each page tells a brief history of each state, what they're famous for, perhaps a famous person from that state, etc. Here's the lowdown:

Delaware- First settled in 1631 by the Dutch, was inhabited by Nanticoke and Lenape Indians who burnt their settlement to the ground... Great start.

Pennsylvania- also inhabited by Nanticoke and Lenape. Swedes established a settlement, Dutch took it over, British took it over, etc.

New Jersey- Lenape. Dutch, and Swedes settled until Dutch booted them and then the British came in.

Georgia- Creek and Cherokee living happily. Forced out in 1838 to Oklahoma area

Connecticut- Algonquian, no mention of how they left

Massachusetts- Algonquian there for over 10000 years before English showed up

Maryland- Nanticoke and Piscatawy- land "granted" by King Charles I in 1632

South Carolina-Sioux and Iroquois. Land granted by Charles II

New Hampshire- Algonquian

Virginia- Powhatan & Cherokee

New York- Iroquis and Algonquian. Manhattan was purchased from the Indians- that's cool.

North Carolina- Cherokee and Tuscarora- cite of infamous "lost colony", my guess is pissed off Indians

Rhode Island- Narragansett & Wampanoag. Last of the 13 colonies and essentially the whole East Coast was now "American"

So at this point (around 1790), we've essentially booted Indians west- away from the coast, to "less desirable areas". Look at a US Map and that's not entirely terrible is it?

Now I could go state by state through all 50... and I will (except for the ones with no mention of kicking Indians out), but let me just emphasize that I've been reading this book with my daughter- one state a night all summer. So by this point, I've seen the pattern and whether she has or not is not important- this is a kids book and the first paragraph of each state basically talks about how we booted the natives.

Vermont- Iroquois and Algonquian- prior to becoming a state there were land disputes between New York and New Hampshire with fights over land- that was owned by the Indians...

Kentucky- birthplace of my father- Shawnee and Iroquois- resisted newcomers. And after all, British Law forbade settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains, so at least the Brits were looking out for Indian rights... Either way, Kentucky became America in 1792. Also, please note that the Iroquois got booted. But I thought they were from places like Vermont and New York. Either there were a lot of Iroquois or these are the same ones that already got booted from VT and NY (or more likely- their children)

Tennessee- Cherokee and Chickasaw. And here's a very Cliff Notes version of the French/Indian War. War was fought between France and Brittan. Indians tried to help the French and since they lost, British got Indian territory. Also, did you know that the Indians fought alongside Revolutionaries against the British? Glad we repaid them for their help. Where was I?

Ohio- Iroquois- land lost to British as noted under Tennessee. What a surprise for the Iroquois

Louisiana- Tunica and Caddo. French claimed it, then after the French/Indian war had to give it to Spain- sure, Spain can have it, it's only Louisiana- Spain secretly gave it back to France- sort of like giving your buddy some money in Monopoly right? But then France sold it to America for $15MM- the Lousiana Purchase. So with this purchase we've essentially doubled the American "owned" land. Now we need to tell the tenants that their lease has been broken and they need to skedaddle.

Indiana- Miamia and Potawatomi. Europeans wanted beaver hats, so by golly we needed Indiana. Indians "resisted" white settlement but "American victories at Fallen Timbers and Tippecanoe pushed Indians off the land" Well at least we named the state after them. I'm sure they had adequate weapons to fight against us.

Mississippi- forget about black racism there or in Alabama. The Choctaw and Chickasaws and others had to go. Once becoming a state in 1817, the US government felt it necessary to force the rest of the Indians out to Oklahoma fully 13 years later. After all, not only is this area is ours, but you can't even be here you stupid Indians!

Illinois- Cahokia and Chippewa lived there. I'm sure the University of Illinois logo is representative of one of them

Alabama- Cherokee, Creek, Chocktaw and Chickasaw. Rosa Parks stood up for blacks, but by then the Indians were long gone. But at least they had Indian Territory.

Maine- Talk about a backfill state. Algonquins lived up there too. Sounds like a large tribe if you ask me. But oh well, we needed that land. After all, we had to pay people to live there by giving them free land.

Missouri- Osage, Missouri, Fox- another state named after the folks that got sent away. What if we named other things after those who were mistreated there. How about "Japanese-American Town" instead of San Francisco.

Arkansas- Bluff Dwellers- yes that's what they were called, although I wonder if that's what they called themselves. We forced the Indians out in 1830 so that white farmers could move in.

Halfway home and I'm only a little tired. No need to take a break, I'll see if I can power through this bad boy

Michigan- Potawatomi and Ojobwa in the Upper Peninsula- no mention of who was in the more populous southern part. "Michigan" is a from a Chippewa word so perhaps it was them.

Florida- I don't even have to look- of course the Seminoles were there- ask Bobby Bowden and Charlie something who ended up playing with the Knicks. It says that we bought their land- sounds good. But it also says that those who didn't sell were forced to move to Indian Territory- nice. "Give me your lunch money... or I'll kick your ass and take your lunch money"

Texas- Don't get me started on Texas. I actually watched a movie called Banditas and actually learned a bit about its history. Wow. What a bunch of dicks. Forget the Indian thing (Caddo). So Mexico owned Texas and gave the US permission to have a certain number of white settlers move there. But Stephen Austin let 300 American families move to live in Texas and then more and more. But Mexico was unable to really enforce this so the settlers kept coming. Now Texas (as a Mexican state) was unhappy with Mexico and claimed independence. Santa Anna went to fight the rebels and assert Mexican control over their state and killed a bunch in the famous "Alamo". Heck, we wanted independence from British rule so we fought them- and won. The confederates wanted independence from the US and they lost. The Texans wanted independence from Mexico and they lost- and we're talking Mexicans who lived in Texas- not the whites who just decided to move in. Then Sam Houston led American forces to destroy the Mexican army and Texas was now independent- until the US made it a state.

Iowa- now talk about a white state. Home of Herbert Hoover. Oh yeah, the Illinois, Miami, Sioux an Omaha lived there first (they actually took it over from the Mound People of prehistoric times). We actually were nice enough to set aside a stip of land for Sauk and Fox Indians along the Mississippi river. Now that's a very nice gesture isn't it? Now all we had to do was convince them to move there. Well that didn't go well, so a war broke out and by 1851, all of Iowa was owned by the US.

Wisconsin- Winnebago! Cool, that opens the discussion to vehicles named after Indians- Pontiac, ummmm. Indian motorcycles... that's all I feel like thinking about.

California- Cahuilla- I'm from California and have never heard of them. But regardless, this is sort like Texas. California was owned by Mexico from when they gained independence from Spain. After the Mexican American war, California became ours.

Around this time- 1851 the concept of Indian Reservations was established whereby I guess the government was actually feeling a tad guilty about the situation and figured that by giving Indians their own designated lands, all would be forgiven. I won't go into how that has gone.

Minnesota- Ojobwa and Sioux- out. 1862 Homestead Act- Free land for anyone who hasn't fought against the US. Sorry indians.

Oregon- Tillamook

Kansas- Pawnee and Kansa (now Kaw)- Kansas was part of "Indian Territory" starting in 1830. Well, by 1854, we decided that we wanted that land too. So time to move.

West Virginia- More backfilling- or actually splitting of an existing state- see Virginia

Nevada- Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe. Who cares about such a wasteland-until silver is discovered.

Nebraska- Missouri, Omaha, Pawnee, Dakota. Nebraska was the "Great American Desert", so settlers simply passed through. White settlement was in fact forbidden and it was Indian Territory. In 1854 we decided we wanted it for ourselves.

Colorado- Arapaho and Cheyenne- similar to California.

North Dakota- Mandan, Hidatsa, Lakota Sioux- Nobody wanted to live there because it was remote and Indians scared whites away. But when the railway was built, settlement picked up, their natural food (Bison) had been depleted and they eventually surrendered.

South Dakota- Cheyenne and Arikara and later the displaced Lakota Sioux. We actually had an agreement that the indians would stay west of the Missouri River and whites on the east. Sounds good enough, until the whites decided to violate the agreement and found gold. We then killed a bunch of Sioux at Wounded Knee and it was all ours.

Like I said, I'm only going to mention states where Indians lived so I should be close to being done. I've done 40 so far and I'm burning out. Sorry.

Montana- Wide variety of nations lived there since it's so big. Battle of Little Bighorn where Custer was killed by Sioux and Cheyenne. I think that pissed us off so we had to take the land.

Washington- Cayuse, Nez Perce and Yakima- sounds like a peaceful resolution for the most part.

Idaho- Nez Perce and Bannock- Gold spurred settlements which established conflict with violent rebellions with forced reservation occupation. So far, I haven't seen much good news for Indians and we're running out of space.

Wyoming- Arapaho, Cheyenne and others- passthrough state until gold discovered. No mention of conflict.

Utah- Ute, Paiute, Shoshone- again, no mention of conflict

Oklahoma- ahh the Sooners. Original home of Oklahoma Indians or Mud Builders. Since 1820, the US forced the five "civilized tribes" to move there. Wow, I seem to recall more than 5 tribes mentioned so far (east of Oklahoma), so what happened to the "uncivilized tribes"? Anyway, the Cherokee Trail of Tears refers to the thousands of miles walk that we made the civilized tribes go to get to what would become home of the Dust Bowl- sounds attractive- I wonder why they weren't enthusiastic to get there. Anyway, the ones who survived the walk ended up living there free from white settlement... until 1889. Talk about a land rush and the term "Sooner". Move! this land is ours now.

New Mexico- Anasazi- Mexican American war- see California

Arizona- Anasazi- same as California- but looking back at 4th grade, my tribe was the Hopi which along with the Navajo was based in Arizona. Wonder why there's no mention there. Sort of a peaceful resolution.

Well, that's it. all 48 contiguous states. Believe it or not, Alaska and Hawaii have their own native people, but we didn't really force them to move in order for us to settle there. I'm sick of this topic now and need a drink so I'll end it here. Hope you enjoyed your brief history of Native American Indians rant.

Sad isn't it?

Correction on Hawaii. Apparently we weren't too fond of the queen of Hawaii, so we booted her.

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